The good people at Displaced Nation asked me to join a motley crew of expats, repats, and otherwise displaced types to discuss Brexit and the presidential carry-ons on the far side of the pond. Gawd knows they asked me but I chucked my two-penneth in anyway. Obviously, it was a virtual panel. We didn’t actually get together to navel-gaze over our americanos, more’s the pity.
Our verdict was delivered a few days ago. Sadly, though, a few of my best lines were left out…
Back here in old Norwich, ‘to trump’ means ‘to break wind’ in local parlance. There’s definitely a whiff in the air and it ain’t pleasant. And what happens when the bad smell doesn’t deliver?
Don’t know why. Maybe Yanks just don’t like fart jokes? Anyway, you can read the full piece here.
Let’s face it, the European Union is hard to love – the faceless eurocrats in smart suits who run the show (Jean-Claude who?), the savage treatment of Greece (to keep German banks solvent), the every-man-for-himself response to the migrant crisis (not very communautaire), the expensive nonsense of moving the entire EU Parliament from Brussels to Strasbourg just to vote (to keep the French happy), the initial refusal to allow the UK Government to zero-rate sanitary products (only a man would be so stupid). I could go on and on.
Finally, the EU referendum is nearly upon us. Thank the Lord it’s almost over. With every passing week, the arguments on both sides of the campaign have become more hysterical. No, I don’t believe the sky will fall in if the UK leaves the Union. It may get rocky for a while – divorces rarely end sweetly – but common sense will prevail because it’s in everyone’s interests that a deal is done. Yes, I do think high levels of migration to the UK caused by alarming levels of unemployment in some parts of the Eurozone has put pressure on housing and public services. But there are better ways to solve this than throwing the baby out with the bathwater. I must confess, I flip-flopped for a while. It’s an incredibly important decision and I’ve tried to weigh up the pros and cons as best as I could. But I cannot in all conscience vote on the same side as the likes of Nigel Farage and his acolytes of little-Englanders blaming migrants for everything that moves or the unsavoury troupe of neo-liberal Tories led by bonkers Boris whose only answer to the funding problems within the health service is to privatise it. And yes, I do believe there is a link between the cowardly murder of Jo Cox by a fascist nutter and some of the more extreme voices in the leave campaign. You don’t have to pull the trigger to load the gun. Just saying.
It’s been a stonker of a year. In partnership with Summertime Publishing, I launched Springtime Books to provide a publishing platform for expat writers and in May, I wrapped up the saga of our emigrey days with the release of Turkey Street. The book birthing was particularly painful. Eighteen months later than planned, I fretted my comeback would be as welcome as another Spice Girls reunion, but the pain eased as the reviews dropped onto the mat. Against the blogging odds, Perking the Pansies continues to trip along nicely with a bevy of fans old and new. Somehow or other, I’ve just exceeded my 1,000th post and 10,000th comment. Not bad, I suppose, for some silly old nonsense. For all these things, I’m nothing if not grateful.
Here are the top of the pansy pops for 2015 – a fine diet of gay pride; righting an old wrong; butts of steel; relationship highs and Turkish lows; murderous intent and loose ends finally tied; the dreaded curse of middle England; bad tempered café society; and a little cottage industry to keep us out of the workhouse.
London Pride | Pardon Me | Catching Crabs | Istanbul Pride, Turkey Shame | Death Duties | Turkey Street Uncovered | Happy Anniversary, Liam | Whinging Brits | Give Us a Quiche | Springtime Has Sprung
London Pride 2015
Istanbul Pride, Turkey Shame
Turkey Street Uncovered
Happy Anniversary, Liam
Give Us a Quiche
As for the most popular image of 2015? Typical!
Here’s looking ahead to more pansy adventures in 2016. Happy New Year to one and all.
According to the Legal Ombudsman, the average Brit moans about something going awry 71 times per week but less than 1 in 5 of us are prepared to do anything about it. It’s well known that us Brits have raised whinging to an art form. Unlike many of my compatriots, I have a relatively positive demeanour. Apparently, I even whistle when I walk (irritating, I know), a practice I inherited from my mother. But even I want to throw rotten eggs at the screen every time I see that fake man of the people (and former investment banker) Nigel Farage (leader of the far right UK Independence Party) and his nauseating blokey face grinning back at me on TV.
I know from bitter experience that the classic moaning minnie has a colonial cousin, stoking up the home fires overseas. Yes, the Bigot Abroad, someone who hates the country they’ve moved to and hates the country they’ve moved from. There’s no pleasing some twats. I crashed into one or two of ’em propping up the bars of Turkey, I can tell you. Nigel’s swivel-eyed fans are alive and thriving in expatland. If only we could deport Nig to join them.
Feel free to throw a rotten egg at this image.
After 20 months, we finally closed the door on the Weaver’s Cottage and left the old parish of Norwich-Over-The-Water. It was a sad parting but bricks and mortar are just that, even when they’re 370 years old and located in the oldest ward in town. In any case, we shall return. Our new gaff (my 18th home since I dropped) is less than a mile across the city on the other side of the water. We fully intend to re-visit our old haunts every now and then and wallow in the exuberance and pretentiousness of Norwich arty types (also known as a few pints on a warm summer’s evening at the Playhouse Theatre bar).
There’s something a little bit special about Norwich-Over-The-Water. It’s reckoned by those in the know to be the site of the original Saxon (or rather Anglish) settlement called Westwic. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, wood-pannelled Westwic was torched in 1004 by the deliciously named Sweyn Forkbeard, King of the Danes. Clearly there was something rotten in the State of Denmark, to misquote the Bard. However, the doughty arsonist’s marauding hit the right spot and he later became the first Danish king of England and introduced flat-packed furniture to a world-wide audience. Okay, I made that last bit up.
Fast forward to medieval times and Norwich-Over-The-Water welcomed Huguenot, Walloon and Flemish refugees from the near continent, fleeing religious persecution from the dastardly French and Spanish. The immigrants became known as “The Strangers” and eventually made up a third of the city’s population. Apparently, the mighty flood of immigrants caused very little resentment at the time. Far from packing out the workhouses and stealing the jobs of the local farmhands, the highly skilled expats from the Low Countries bolstered trade with mainland Europe and helped make Norwich rich. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Nigel Farage and your UKIP xenophobic swivel-eyed loons.
So, I give you a little tour of Norwich-Over-The-Water from the comfort of your own sofa:
St Mary’s Coslany
St George’s Colegate
St Michael Coslany